Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

a wicked faction should become possessed in this country of the same power which their allies in the very next to us have so perfidiously usurped and so outrageously abused ? Is it inhuman to prevent, if possible, the spilling their blood, or imprudent to guard against the effusion of our own? Is it contrary to

any of the honest principles of party, or repugnant to any of the known duties of friendship, for any senator respectfully and amicably to caution his brother members against countenancing, by inconsiderate expressions, a sort of proceeding which it is impossible they should deliberately approve?

He had undertaken to demonstrate, by arguments which he thought could not be refuted, and by docu ments which he was sure could not be denied, that no comparison was to be made between the British government and the French usurpation. — That they who endeavored madly to compare them were by no means making the comparison of one good system with another good system, which varied only in local and circumstantial differences; much less that they were holding out to us a superior pattern of legal liberty, which we might substitute in the place of our old, and, as they describe it, superannuated Constitution. He meant to demonstrate that the French scheme was not a comparative good, but a positive evil. — That the question did not at all turn, as it had been stated, on a parallel between a monarchy and a republic. He denied that the present scheme of things in France did at all deserve the respectable name of a republic: he had therefore no comparison between monarchies and republics to make. — That what was done in France was a wild attempt to methodize anarchy, to perpetuate and fix disorder. That it was a foul, impious, monstrous thing, wholly out of the course of moral Nature. He undertook to prove that it was generated in treachery, fraud, falsehood, hypocrisy, and unprovoked murder. - He offered to make out that those who have led in that business had conducted themselves with the utmost perfidy to their colleagues in function, and with the most flagrant perjury both towards their king and their constituents : to the one of whom the Assembly had sworn fealty; and to the other, when under no sort of violence or constraint, they had sworn a full obedience to instructions. — That, by the terror of assassination, they had driven away a very great number of the members, so as to produce a false appearance of a majority. - That this fictitious majority had fabricated a Constitution, which, as now it stands, is a tyranny far beyond any example that can be found in the civilized European world of our age; that therefore the lovers of it must be lovers, not of liberty, but, if they really understand its nature, of the lowest and basest of all servitude.

He proposed to prove that the present state of things in France is not a transient evil, productive, as some have too favorably represented it, of a lasting good ; but that the present evil is only the means of producing future and (if that were possible) worse evils. — That it is not an undigested, imperfect, and crude scheme of liberty, which may gradually be mellowed and ripened into an orderly and social freedom ; but that it is so fundamentally wrong as to be utterly incapable of correcting itself by any length of time, or of being formed into any mode of polity of which a member of the House of Commons could publicly declare his approbation.

If it had been permitted to Mr. Burke, he would have shown distinctly, and in detail, that what the Assembly calling itself National had held out as a large and liberal toleration is in reality a cruel and insidious religious persecution, infinitely more bitter than any which had been heard of within this century. That it had a feature in it worse than the old persecutions. — That the old persecutors acted, or pretended to act, from zeal towards some system of piety, and virtue: they gave strong preferences to their own; and if they drove people from one religion, they provided for them another, in which men might take refuge and expect consolation. — That their new persecution is not against a variety in conscience, but against all conscience. That it professes contempt towards its object; and whilst it treats all religion with scorn, is not so much as neutral about the modes: it unites the opposite evils of intolerance and of indifference.

He could have proved that it is so far from rejecting tests, (as unaccountably had been assserted,) that the Assembly had imposed tests of a peculiar hardship, arising from a cruel and premeditated pecuniary fraud: tests against old principles, sanctioned by the laws, and binding upon the conscience. — That these tests were not imposed as titles to some new honor or some new benefit, but to enable men to hold a poor compensation for their legal estates, of which they had been unjustly deprived; and as they had before been reduced from affluence to indigence, so, on refusal to swear against their conscience, they are now driven from indigence to famine, and treated with every possible degree of outrage, insult, and inhumanity. — That these tests, which their imposers well knew would not be taken, were intended for the very purpose of cheating their miserable victims out of the compensation which the tyrannic impostors of the Assembly had previously and purposely rendered the public unable to pay. That thus their ultimate violence arose from their original fraud.

He would have shown that the universal peace and concord amongst nations, which these common enemies to mankind had held out with the same fraudulent ends and pretences with which they had uniformly conducted every part of their proceeding, was a coarse and clumsy deception, unworthy to be proposed as an example, by an informed and sagacious British senator, to any other country. - That, far from peace and good-will to men, they meditated war against all other governments, and proposed systematically to excite in them all the very worst kind of seditions, in order to lead to their common destruction. — That they had discovered, in the few instances in which they have hitherto had the power of discovering it, (as at Avignon and in the Comtat, at Cavaillon and at Carpentras,) in what a savage manner they mean to conduct the seditions and wars they have planned against their neighbors, for the sake of putting themselves at the head of a confederation of republics as wild and as mischievous as their own. He would have shown in what manner that wicked scheme was carried on in those places, without being directly either owned or disclaimed, in hopes that the undone people should at length be obliged to fly to their tyrannic protection, as some sort of refuge from their barbarous and treacherous hostility. He would have shown from those examples that neither this nor any other society could be in safety as long as such a public enemy was in a condition to continue directly or indirectly such practices against its peace. — That Great Britain was a principal object of their machinations; and that they had begun by establishing correspondences, communications, and a sort of federal union with the factious here. — That no practical enjoyment of a thing so imperfect and precarious as human happiness must be, even under the very best of governments, could be a security for the existence of these governments, during the prevalence of the principles of France, propagated from that grand school of every disorder and every vice.

He was prepared to show the madness of their declaration of the pretended rights of man,- the childish futility of some of their maxims, the gross and stupid absurdity and the palpable falsity of others, and the mischievous tendency of all such declarations to the well-being of men and of citizens and to the safety and prosperity of every just commonwealth. He was prepared to show, that, in their conduct, the Assembly had directly violated not only every sound principle of government, but every one, without exception, of their own false or futile maxims, and indeed every rule they had pretended to lay down for their own direction.

In a word, he was ready to show that those who could, after such a full and fair exposure, continue to countenance the French insanity were not mistak

ticians, but bad men; but he thought that in this case, as in many others, ignorance had been the cause of admiration.

These are strong assertions. They required strong proofs. The member who laid down these positions

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »